forces after the Cold War resulted in a need to do more withless. The post-Cold War era was considered unpredictable, withnumerous potential threats putting even more demand ondownsized forces. Recent advances in internet and communica-tions technologies (ICT), sensors and guidance systems seemedto hold the answer.RMA has been defined in a Canadian context as:
... a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by theinnovative application of new technologies which, combinedwith dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational andorganizational concepts fundamentally alters the character andconduct of military operations.
New technologies include "precision-guided munitions for precision force, stealth for greater power projection, advancedintelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for en-hanced battle-space awareness, and advanced command, con-trol, communications and computing systems for increased battle-space control."
Technology was considered the solution for dealing with anunpredictable post-Cold War world. Theorists envisioned inter-net and communications technology linking all warfighters anddecision-makers —from infantryman to naval vessels to air-craft— to provide seamless access to timely information. Tech-nology would help to improve situational awareness and reduce"friction" in the battle space. This resulted in the acronymC4ISR, or
Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance,
. This not onlyapplied to command and control but also to the connectivity of weapons as well. The lowliest infantryman could see his posi-tion and the position of his enemies on an electronic map whichrendered data in real-time from surveillance planes above. Thesame soldier could also contribute his own data to the system,entering reconnaissance information into the system to directartillery or air strikes.
The other side of the debate is where Boyd's Acolytes foundthemselves. The RMA critics argued that such a deluge of in-formation would be too overwhelming, effectively paralyzingcommand. In the past Boyd argued that one way to defeat theenemy was to overwhelm him with information:
Each level from sim ple to complex (platoon to theater) hastheir own observation-orientation-decision-action time cyclethat increases as we try to control more levels and details of command at the higher levels. Put simply, as the number of events we must consider increase, the longer it takes toobserve-orient-decide-act.
Some anti-RMA proponents embraced the new technologyas a way to free the military from a hierarchical commandstructure. A networked military could become more dispersedand decentralized. Improved telecommunications would allowsoldiers to maintain cohesion within a more distributednetwork-type organization. Such an organization would pro-mote better maneuver warfare and swarm tactics. The revolu-tion wasn't technology, it was social organization. Anti-RMA proponents argued for "the cheap and the many." More mass- produced weapons platforms, more UAVs, and more boots onthe ground that could self-organize and swarm the enemy at themoment he revealed a weak point.Boyd had argued vehemently against "gold-plating"throughout the development of the F-15 in the early 1970s.Boyd was famous for saying: "People, ideas, and hardware inthat order!" His Acolytes were fighting the same battle in the1990's against the RMA crowd and their "multi-role" weapons platforms. The F-22 Raptor, which formally entered into serv-ice in 2005 and is slated to replace the F-15, had begun its de-velopment in the early 1990s. The F-35, also began develop-ment under the Joint Advanced Strike Technology program, andis scheduled to replace the A-10, F-16, F-18 (champions of Boyd and Pierre Sprey) and AV-8B Harrier II around 2012.Surely recent advances in technology will have a profoundeffect on the way we conduct war in the future. But only timewill tell how society adapts to technology, a more far-reachingchange that affects the conduct of war on a much deeper level.Arthur C. Clarke famously observed that the effects of techno-logical innovations are typically overrated in the short run butunderestimated in the long run.
An additional aspect of the RMA debate was the conceptionof how war would be fought in the future. Boydian theoristswere at work here as well.During the 1990's Pentagon planners were unsure of wherethe interventionist missions were taking the US and stillsearched the horizon for something familiar. They settled their eyes on the next potential “near peer” competitor: China. Herewas a large, industrial state with a conventional military and booming economy. After 1996 the Taiwan Straits was the bat-tleground of the future. Planners started focussing on a high-
WS 500 - Coram
Department of National Defence, "Shaping the Future of the Canadian Forces: A Strategy for 2020," (Ottawa: Department of National Defence (DND), 1999). p. 2.
Elinor Sloan, "DCI: Responding to the US-Led Revolution in Military Affairs."
48, no. 1 (2000). pp. 4-7.
The Revolution in Military Affairs: Implications for Canada and Nato
. McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal(2002). pp. 16.
Patterns of Conflict
, (1986) Slide #72. Available for download athttp://d-n-i.net/boyd/pdf/poc.pdf